February 23, 2006 - Put More Of Our School Dollars In Classroom, Florida Voters Tell Quinnipiac University Poll; But Don't Link Teacher Pay To Test Scores
Gov. Jeb Bush's ideas to improve education in Florida get a mixed reception from voters, who support more than 3 - 1 his idea to spend more education dollars in the classroom, but reject more than 2 -1 his proposal to link teacher pay to standardized test scores, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Florida voters support 71 - 20 percent a proposal to require public schools to spend at least 65 percent of their budgets on direct classroom expenses, instead of non-classroom expenses such as athletics, transportation and administration, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Support is strong among Democrats, Republicans and independent voters.

But voters reject 66 - 29 percent a proposal to link teacher pay to how well their students perform on the FCAT statewide standardized tests. Republicans oppose the proposal 51 - 42 percent, with Democrats opposed 78 - 18 percent and independent voters opposed 69 - 27 percent.

"Seven in 10 Floridians - including two-thirds of Democrats - think it's a good idea to spend 65 percent of school budgets on classroom expenses, even though most say they know little or nothing about the proposal," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Not even Republicans like tying teacher salaries to FCAT scores."

Only 35 percent of Florida voters say public schools statewide are "excellent" or "good," while 54 percent say they are "not so good" or "poor."

Turning to schools in their community, 53 percent rank them "excellent" or "good," with 38 percent who rate them "not so good" or "poor."

Voters oppose 67 - 29 percent a proposal to allow larger class sizes in public schools, after a 2002 state constitutional amendment requiring smaller class sizes. Republicans oppose larger class sizes 56 - 40 percent, while Democrats say smaller is better 76 - 22 percent and independent voters say keep classes small 69 - 26 percent.

Florida voters support 58 - 26 percent a proposal to start the school year no earlier than the last week of August, instead of the current start in mid-August. Women support the later start 60 - 24 percent, while men support it 55 - 28 percent.

"Two thirds of Florida voters want to maintain the required small class size even though it passed narrowly when it was on the ballot in 2002," Brown said.

"Floridians yearn for longer summers for their kids. By a more than two-to-one margin, they don't want school to start before the last week in August. Unlike many education issues there is little difference among Republicans and Democrats on this question."

From February 15 - 20, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,076 Florida registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the nation as a public service and for research. For additional data-www.quinnipiac.edu and quicklinks

24. How would you rate the quality of Florida's public schools - Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Excellent 5% 7% 2% 8% 5% 6% Good 30 34 29 27 30 31 Not so good 34 28 39 34 34 34 Poor 20 18 21 22 21 20 DK/NA 10 12 9 9 11 9

North/ PnHnd Bay Cntrl SthW SthE

Excellent 8% 7% 5% 3% 4% Good 43 34 25 25 26 Not so good 29 32 37 30 38 Poor 12 17 24 27 23 DK/NA 9 10 10 15 9

TREND: How would you rate the quality of Florida's public schools - excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                        Feb 23  Feb 24
                        2006    2005


Excellent 5 6 Good 30 34 No so good 34 33 Poor 20 22 DK/NA 10 6



25. How would you rate the quality of the public schools in your community - Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Excellent 13% 16% 9% 15% 14% 12% Good 40 49 37 38 40 41 Not so good 25 18 32 22 24 26 Poor 13 10 12 16 13 13 DK/NA 8 7 9 9 9 8

North/ PnHnd Bay Cntrl SthW SthE

Excellent 20% 10% 13% 12% 11% Good 42 43 40 43 37 Not so good 19 27 25 19 29 Poor 12 11 13 17 14 DK/NA 7 9 8 8 9

TREND: How would you rate the quality of the public schools in your community - excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                        Feb 23  Feb 24
                        2006    2005


Excellent 13 14 Good 40 43 Not so good 25 24 Poor 13 13 DK/NA 8 5



26. Governor Bush wants to change the way public school teachers are paid in Florida. He wants to tie teachers' salaries to how well their students do on the FCAT. Do you support or oppose this proposal?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Support 29% 42% 18% 27% 34% 24% Oppose 66 51 78 69 62 69 DK/NA 6 7 4 4 4 7

North/ PnHnd Bay Cntrl SthW SthE

Support 30% 39% 26% 31% 21% Oppose 66 56 69 63 70 DK/NA 4 4 5 6 8



27. Governor Bush supports a proposal that would require most public schools to decrease the amount of spending on non-classroom expenses and increase the amount of spending on classroom expenses. How much have you heard or read about this proposal -- A lot, some, only a little, or nothing at all?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


A lot 5% 5% 4% 5% 6% 4% Some 18 15 20 20 20 16 Only a little 34 38 34 31 35 34 Nothing at all 41 42 39 42 40 43 DK/NA 2 1 2 2 - 3

North/ PnHnd Bay Cntrl SthW SthE

A lot 5% 4% 5% 3% 6% Some 20 20 15 34 13 Only a little 28 39 34 31 37 Nothing at all 45 35 46 32 41 DK/NA 2 1 1 1 3



28. Most public schools currently spend less than 65 percent of their budgets on direct classroom expenses. The proposal would require public schools to use at least 65 percent of their budgets on classroom expenses, as opposed to non- classroom expenses like athletics, transportation, and administration. Do you support or oppose requiring public schools to spend a minimum of 65 percent of their budgets on direct classroom expenses?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Support 71% 77% 67% 73% 73% 69% Oppose 20 15 25 18 20 19 DK/NA 9 8 8 9 7 11

North/ PnHnd Bay Cntrl SthW SthE

Support 69% 76% 70% 76% 68% Oppose 22 15 23 16 19 DK/NA 8 9 7 8 13



29. As you may know, many public schools in Florida begin the school year in early to mid August. The legislature is considering a law that would prevent schools from starting until the last week in August. Do you support or oppose this legislation?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Support 58% 61% 59% 51% 55% 60% Oppose 26 26 24 30 28 24 DK/NA 16 14 16 19 17 16

North/ PnHnd Bay Cntrl SthW SthE

Support 54% 61% 57% 49% 61% Oppose 30 25 26 30 24 DK/NA 17 14 17 21 15



30. As you may know, in 2002 voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring smaller classes in the public schools. Now, there is a proposal to allow somewhat larger classes. Supporters say the change is needed to keep budget costs in line. Opponents say smaller classes are more important, regardless of the cost. Do you support or oppose the proposal to allow larger classes in public schools?

                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Support 29% 40% 22% 26% 34% 24% Oppose 67 56 76 69 62 72 DK/NA 4 4 3 5 4 4

North/ PnHnd Bay Cntrl SthW SthE

Support 36% 30% 25% 35% 24% Oppose 59 66 72 62 71 DK/NA 5 4 3 3 5